Lasted less than an hour.
It’s that time of year again, when you try to buy a cute little Christmas tree-like plant for your apartment—to be festive-like—and the cat knocks it over within like 0.3 seconds, so you spend the evening vacuuming up dirt and the bits of Christmas-tree-like-plant tendrils instead of basking in the feeling of accomplishment slash self-pity that comes with buying Christmas decorations probably only you yourself will see, but so you go out and buy a new mini Christmas tree plant anyway, decorate it, and Instagram it to feel better.
Also known as the holidays.
Cat lady moments notwithstanding, the end of the year brings with it a flurry of “Best of 2012” lists, designed to inform you of all the great writing produced over the last 12 months, and guilt trip you for not having read enough of it. How I’ve gotten through a book every week, and yet somehow managed to avoid reading even one of the NYT’s’ 100 Notable Books, is beyond me. In a related query, how could they have snubbed Sookie Stackhouse No. 12??
But really, who has time to read all of those lists, what with our busy holiday schedule of eating and napping and contemplating eating again. This is why you guys have me. By combining 17 different BO2012 lists — from, here we go, Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, NPR again, The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, Janet Maslin, Dwight Garner, Slate, Goodreads, Goodreads again, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, Huffington Post, Amazon, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed and Oprah’s Book Club — I have created the ÜBERLIST, the definitive, mathematically and scientifically verified Best Books of 2012. Continue reading
Amazon's message for small businesses.
Oh Amazon, you bitch.
It’s been a few days since the Internet giant revealed its less-than-stealthy plan to turn customers into de facto spies, encouraging them to creep into unsuspecting brick-and-mortar stores, scan prices with a phone app and then peace out, all in the interest of a 5% discount on their next purchase. The day-long endeavor was pretty successful—use of Amazon’s app tripled—but it also pissed off booksellers and other small-business minded peoples, who say if you’re going to be the industry behemoth that’s undercutting prices, you still don’t have to be a dick about it.
Personally, I love Amazon. I’ve been a devoted customer for almost 10 years, an affair that started, as I mentioned earlier this week, with my 2003 purchase of Mein Kampf. But I also have a very special place in my heart for small bookstores, even if the prospect of actually owning one someday seems increasingly remote. For me, each has its purpose: Amazon is where I go to find out everything I need to know about a book: what it’s about, what readers thought, what else the author has written, etc. It’s where I organize my own rather chaotic list of potential reads (my Wish List is 223 items long) and it’s where I turn when I need a book quickly and don’t have the time or energy to track it down in person. Continue reading
"Bitch, that's my copy of UNmarketing!"
I’ve been saying for months (primarily in my mind) that Borders might have saved itself if only the company had managed to innovate something—anything—in the world of e-readers, and more specifically if they’d looked into starting a “Netflix for books.” Anyway, too late now: Borders is dead and all that remains are some shuttered storefronts and the handful of hardcovers I picked up during a really depressing clearance sale.
But it’s no surprise that Amazon has jumped on this totally genius idea (of mine). The company is launching Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (worst name ever), which will only be accessible on the Kindle and Kindle Fire (not apps), and only available for subscribers to Amazon Prime (the rush-delivery-turned-video-streaming service Amazon tries to sell you on every time you buy so much as a $1 used copy of Twilight.) Prime costs something in the neighborhood of $80 a year, so this lending library incarnation has yet to really compete with an actual (free) library or the practice of (freely) lending books to friends. But it’s a step in the right direction. Continue reading
So it’s a big week for e-readers (which I’m told are like books except on little miniature computers) as Amazon unveiled Kindle FIRE *sizzle* (sound effects mine), the company’s long-awaited tablet device (i.e. iPad assassin). The $199 doodad is pretty much a Blackberry PlayBook—it has a 7-inch color touch screen, plays movies and music, lets you browse the interwebs and oh, gives you access to like a bazillion e-books. Hooray for technology!
In addition to Fire, Amazon also unveiled new pricing tiers for a variety of other Kindle models: A Kindle Touch runs $99 for a WiFi-enabled version, or $149 for 3G, and a plain old readin’-stuff Kindle is now a mere $79, less than the price of four hardcovers. (You can also still get versions with keyboards, if you’re like geriatric or whatever.)
Now, friends of this blog know I have typically been …whatever the opposite of an enthusiast is when it comes to the Kindle. I’m one of those old-school, paper-loving weirdos that likes to stand on her soapbox and talk about the smell of books, the feel of cracking a spine, the satisfaction of turning a final page. Without physical books, approximately a third of my 330-square-foot apartment would be empty, at least two of my friends would have nothing to borrow, and at this particular moment my purse would be about a thousand pounds lighter (thank you, Under The Dome.)
In a way I can’t remember feeling about the switch from cassettes to CDs or CDs to iPods, I’ve stubbornly held on to my preference for the tangible book, (a preference evidenced by the number of used Barnes & Noble bags I have stored under my kitchen sink.) But although I am a veritable Maxine when it comes to e-reading, I have always said that I would make the switch when it became unavoidable. Yesterday’s announcement raises the question (not only for me, but for everyone in the publishing industry): is it that time? Continue reading